Mars Helicopter Marks New Flight Records


NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, has set new records for its longest and fastest flight to date, according to an announcement from the agency on Friday. During its 25th flight, which lasted 161.3 seconds, the rotorcraft covered a distance of 2,310 feet (704 meters) at a speed of 12 MPH (5.5 meters per second) after climbing to an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters). As shown in the video below, Ingenuity’s navigation camera recorded and transmitted footage of the flight.

“For our record-breaking flight, Ingenuity’s downward-looking navigation camera provided us with a breathtaking sense of what it would feel like gliding 33 feet above the surface of Mars at 12 miles per hour,” said Ingenuity team lead Teddy Tzanetos.

Ingenuity, recognized as the first powered aircraft to operate from the surface of another planet, flew for the first time in April 2021 and is currently preparing for its 29th flight. As previously reported by AVweb, NASA announced in March that it was extending Ingenuity flight operations through September to support the Perseverance rover’s exploration of Mars’ Jezero Crater. The Ingenuity team was awarded the 2021 Robert J. Collier trophy by the National Aeronautic Association last month.

Video: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Footage of the 161.3-second flight was sped up approximately five times.
Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Really cool stuff. What a testbed for future tech. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to do this and spur the next level of technology. Amazing work from the folks at JPL!

  2. Not bad, considering it’s basically a solar powered RC helicopter. Oh, and it’s 135,800,000 ish miles away on another PLANET, different atmospheric conditions including lots of dust to obscure the solar panels.

    Can your helicopter do that? I thought not.

    • That is a great point – can lessons be learned for flight on earth?

      Airbus etc. helicopters are known for high altitude work, such as in the Himalayas, part of that is power I presume. The former Hughes helicopter company had a version better for hothigh, in its original Hughes 500 fuselage shape that is lighter than the competing Bell 206.

  3. The most impressive thing to me is that this aircraft is able to do all this (totally different gravity, totally different atmosphere, cutting edge technologies on board) WITHOUT ever having conducted even ONE test flight!!!

    • Actually, they had some test flights in a reduced pressure chamber and a counter weight to simulate the gravity. But it is still an amazing feat given the very thin atmosphere and the reduced power from sunlight on mars compared with earth.

  4. Next generation they should plan in sufficient mass/power to make one capable of hovering over a solar panel & blowing the dust off. Mobile carpet cleaning, so to speak.